Woolworths and Argos have had to remove the popular children’s craft toy Bindeez from shelves following concerns that it may contain a potentially lethal hallucinogenic drug.

Retailers had to withdraw the product after Moose Entertainment, the Australian company that designed the toy, admitted that a “small number” of children in Australia needed treatment after swallowing beads from the product.

The beads are meant to be coated with a harmless glue that allows them to stick together. However, health authorities in New South Wales found they were covered in a chemical which, if swallowed, changes into a compound similar to GHB, a date-rape drug. The reaction can cause seizures and unconsciousness.

It is understood that about 10 million of the toys were due to be sold this year. The Toy Retailers Association had named Bindeez one of their top 10 toys for Christmas. However, retailers said it was too early to talk about a product recall.